(Hartford, CT) – Today, the Connecticut State Department of Education (CSDE) is releasing results from the 2021-22 state assessments[i]. They show that there are some signs of learning acceleration and recovery, however, overall student achievement still lags pre-pandemic levels.
The Performance Index[ii] – the best measure of overall average achievement in a content area – shows that while achievement was increasing prior to the pandemic, the achievement in 2021-22[iii] is still below the three most recent pre-pandemic years. This is true for students with high needs (i.e., English learners, students with disabilities, and/or students from low-income families) and those without high needs, thus illustrating the widespread impact of the pandemic on student achievement. These Performance Index changes translate to declines in student proficiency[iv] of around 6 to 8 percentage points in English language arts and mathematics and around 4 percentage points in science.
While performance has not returned to pre-pandemic levels, academic growth results offer some encouraging signs of learning acceleration. Academic growth measures the pace of student learning in a school year. The 2021-22 academic growth results show that students grew slightly faster in 2021-22 in the elementary grades and in most grades in mathematics than they did in 2018-19 (see table below).
Academic Growth (Grades 4-8)
Average Percentage of Growth Target Achieved (Target = 100)
English Language Arts (ELA)
Even with these improved rates of growth, however, it is estimated that students in Grades 4 and 5 may be 2-3 months behind their expected performance had there not been a pandemic. In the middle school grades (6 through 8), students may be 5-7 months behind in ELA, and a year or more behind in math. The rates of academic growth will need to increase substantially in the coming months and years to shorten the recovery period.
To track academic recovery, the CSDE recently created a Pandemic Recovery dashboard on EdSight (see screenshot below). This dashboard compares how the Performance Index in 2021-22 has changed from 2018-19. These data, which are presented for all districts, schools, and student groups, also show many signs of learning acceleration and recovery.
“While there is still a lot of work to do, it is heartening to see some signs of academic success despite two unusually challenging school years for educators, students, and their school communities,” said Education Commissioner Charlene M. Russell-Tucker. “As students return to classrooms this fall, we remain committed to working with district and school leaders who are considering these results with other sources of information, which must include the voices of educators, students, families, and the community. Through these partnerships, we continue to work toward equitable learning recovery so that all students will thrive.”
Though all schools consistently offered full-time in-person learning in 2021-22, it was far from a normal school year. Student and staff illnesses due to the COVID-19 pandemic and the resulting quarantines and isolations caused significant learning disruptions. Despite those challenges, the 2021-22 results illustrate that educators in many districts and schools are counteracting the negative effects of the pandemic by implementing evidence-based and creative strategies to engage students and accelerate learning. The CSDE will partner with these educators and other stakeholders to identify and share those strategies with school communities across the entire state. In 2018, the CSDE engaged in a similar exercise where it convened school and district-level educators from 16 communities to learn about the specific local policies, educator practices, strategies, and/or systems that contributed to high academic growth. See Voices from the Field – Factors Influencing Academic Growth.
To further advance learning acceleration and equity in academic recovery, the CSDE is using its state and federal resources to invest in a range of projects:
Links to all assessment related EdSight reports are listed below.
For Immediate Release: August 25, 2022 1:00 PM
Eric Scoville, Director of Communications
Email: [email protected]
[i] These include the Smarter Balanced assessments in ELA and Math in Grades 3-8, the Connecticut SAT School Day in ELA and Math in Grade 11, the Connecticut Alternate Assessment for students with significant cognitive disabilities in Grades 3-8 and 11, the Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS) assessments in Grades 5, 8, and 11, and the Connecticut Alternate Science assessment for students with significant cognitive disabilities in Grades 5, 8, and 11.
[ii] Since students take different assessments in each subject, the Performance Index is the best measure of overall aggregate student achievement. This index is the average student achievement on all state academic assessments across all tested grades (3-8 and 11) combined. A separate index is produced for each tested subject: English language arts (ELA), mathematics, and science. The index ranges from 0 to 100. The state target for the Performance Index is 75. At an index of 75, students, on average, are performing solidly in the desired achievement level on their respective assessment. The Performance Index is a key component of Connecticut’s Next Generation Accountability System.
[iii] Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, state academic assessments were not administered in 2019-20. In 2020-21, state assessments were administered but states including Connecticut received waivers from the U.S. Department accountability to not implement school and district accountability. Therefore, Performance Index results are not available for 2020-21. The 2020-21 Smarter Balanced results are used for measuring student growth from 2020-21 to 2021-22 using Connecticut’s Smarter Balanced Growth Model.
[iv] Proficiency rate – or the percentage of students who achieve at or above level 3 – is a commonly used approach to represent aggregate achievement. Researchers, however, strongly caution against reliance on this measure because of its reliability issues, and its harmful, unintended consequences (e.g., overreliance on the “percent proficient” metric encourages educators to focus solely on “bubble” students just below the proficiency standard). Researchers recommend use of the student scale score instead of the performance level for determining average performance for all students and student groups. The CSDE Performance Index is based on the student scale score.
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